Knitting by Judy @ 8:06 AM

Andes Mints socks
Andes Mints socks

Look, gentle reader! A finished object! Or objects, really, since there is a pair.

These are my Andes Mints socks, made from wonderful, squooshy StitchJones Supersocks.

The traveling-lace pattern is my own, made up on the fly. I’m sure it lives in numerous stitch dictionaries. I had knit a similar pattern in my Victoria Socks, but the lace only twists one way. With the Andes Mints socks, I wanted the lace to twist in opposite directions on each.

I have to say I love knitting with this yarn. The colors are gorgeous and Sharon really nailed the repeat length, at least at this gauge. Although the stripes did change a little over the gussets, the colors never pooled or flashed! Love ’em, love ’em, love ’em. I can’t wait for cold weather so I can wear them.

Well… that last isn’t entirely true. I will love wearing the socks, but will miss the warm weather. Falls here are so lovely, usually.

By the way, if for some reason you have not yet heard of Sock Summit 2009, go over and get signed up for info. People in the know are calling this Woodsock. From the info I have – some of which I am not, unfortunately, at liberty to divulge – I can only say that this may very well be a once-in-a-lifetime, not-to-be-missed opportunity.

And people wonder why I love living in Portland. We have more LYS per capita than any other city this size in North America (I think). And also more microbreweries. And tons of local indie dyers and spinners. And a bunch of vineyards. And an awesome fiber festival (OFFF). And locally made, hand-crafted chocolate. And then Sock Summit comes along. What more could one ask for?

The Particulars:

  • Yarn: StitchJones Supersocks (100% Merino, 100 gm/460yds per skein); one skein of Andes Mints. I had yarn left over. There would be plenty in one skein to do a man-size pair of socks.
  • Needles: A pair of Addi Turbos 24″ circs, 2.0mm
  • My own pattern (may be available soon)

Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 11:49 PM

almost blossoms
almost blossoms

It’s been that kind of day.

It started when I realized that the blog feed was not working, so my April fools post – which was actually created on April 1st – was delivered on April 2nd, if at all. Well… that sort of killed the joke, eh?

Having chewed on that problem for a bit, I headed out to the kitchen. There I popped a cup of coffee in my old, trusty microwave to reheat, while I gazed out the back door on my yard – sunny and, dare I say, springlike? The picture shows what my yard really looks like today. See the blue, blue sky and the cherry blossoms about to pop? Ah… finally. The snow picture was from January, 2007, and I do not want to see that return.

As I stood contemplating the return of spring, I heard what can only be described as a groan behind me. A groan, and then a thud, and then silence. I turned in horror. The microwave had died. It completed its mission to heat my cup of coffee. And it was dead. As dead as Marley’s ghost. Deader, actually, as Marley’s ghost could speak and rattle his chains. But Micro (as it was known to friends and family), could do neither. It was as dead as a doornail.

And why, gentle reader, do we use that phrase? Are doornails any more dead than, say, door knobs or window sashes or venetian blind slats? It seems they must, somehow, be. But I digress.

Since the demise of the old refrigerator, Micro has been the oldest of my major appliances. It has been my good and trusty servant for 20 years (it was actually older than #1 Son). In its youth, it was quite something – a combination microwave/convection oven that was rather expensive when purchased. I felt very proud when it came home to my kitchen. It had been repaired once, under warranty, but since then it had never missed a beat. Many a healthy and tasty meal were cooked in it, and certainly I got my money’s worth out of it. But in latter days, in deference to its extreme old age, it was more likely to warm a cup of coffee or pop the occasional bag of popcorn.

The last year or two it has made some sort of strange noises now and again. But it kept right heating up whatever I tossed its way with few complaints. Although I knew that in microwave years it was an ancient beast, it seemed to be one of those eternal things that are always there. I assumed that someday #1 Son would come to take care of my worldly possessions when I no longer needed them, and would find a good home for Micro. I just never expected to have to replace it. Poor Micro. The groan it gave as its last gasp was truly pitiable.

Thus I contemplated its life and mourned its death as I sipped my piping hot cup of coffee. Thank you, Micro, for warming my morning.

fruit bouquet
fruit bouquet

Tomorrow is one of my colleague’s birthday, and this fruit bouquet was sent to mark the occasion. Isn’t this just yummy? What a good idea instead of flowers!

The card said that it should be eaten within 4 hours, and so my colleague asked us all to help out. Who am I to turn down such a heartfelt plea?

Those roundish white things that you see – bananas dipped in white and dark chocolate. Yeah. To die for. And chocolate-covered strawberries. And I can report that the melons, oranges and grapes were quite tasty as well. I had to help out, right? 😉

The fruit fueled my after-work excursion to the local big-box store in search of a new microwave. Not a replacement, mind you, because nothing could replace Micro. But a new one that could do the job.

I found that the state of the art has progressed somewhat over the last 20 years. Microwaves are smaller, lighter and have tons of features for a rather small price. I was pleasantly surprised. I opted not to get one that has a convection over in it. I really haven’t used that feature much and I didn’t want to pay extra for it. But I found a nice, medium-sized microwave and brought it home.

The new microwave and I will need to get used to each other. In Micro’s honor, I decided to start with a bag of popcorn. The first bag was… burned to a crisp darned near burned the kitchen down set off the fire alarm a bit over-popped. The second bag was much better. I believe that, over time, we will grow used to each other’s ways. If I am lucky, this microwave will last even 1/2 as long as Micro did.

I do feel badly about missing Wednesday night knitting. Next week, for sure.

Food |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 6:13 PM

Mama’s recipe box
Mama’s recipe box

Kay and Ann at Maxon-Dixon Knitting are hosting the Grandma Mable Memorial Recipe Box Show & Tell Contest over on their blog. (Head over there for the whole story.)

The cool result of this contest will be a virtual recipe box, full of wonderful things to cook (and eat) from everyone who enters.

Now… one is supposed to post a picture of one’s recipe box. But my recipe box is just a black metal box made to hold index cards that I picked up at some long-ago-forgotten office supply place back in the mid-1970’s. Boring. So I dug a little further into my cupboard.

This is Mama’s recipe box.

Mama was an adequate, if rather uninspired, cook. Meat and potatoes, a green veggie and a yellow veggie. On Fridays the meat was fish, on Sundays roast beef. Mama had a cupboard full of herbs and spices. Each had been purchased for a single recipe that called for it, and then never used again. The family joke was that Bro and I learned to cook because… somebody had to.

So it’s no surprise that this box is not completely full of recipes. At least 1/3 of the cards are resolutely blank.

I have no idea how old Mama’s recipe box is. Inked into the inside of the lid is her maiden name. That dates it to pre-1941. The sticker on the front says Gold Medal Kitchen Tested Recipes. It’s safe to say that most were not tested in Mama’s kitchen. The card on the inside is signed by Betty Crocker.

kitchen tested recipes
kitchen tested recipes

This recipe comes from my Godmother, a wonderful woman who was an extremely good cook and passed several recipes along to both Mama and I. It’s a great way to use up all that extra zucchini in the summer, as even the extra-large ones will be OK.

Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1 cup oil
2-1/2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated zucchini

Mix all ingredients together.
Grease and flour 2 loaf pans.
Bake at 350-F for one hour.

Grandma’s recipes
Grandma’s recipes

While we’re showing old things from family history, this binder belonged to Grandma (Mama’s mom).

It’s a leather three-ring binder, but very few pages are actually on the binder rings. For the most part, the individual pages and recipes and clippings are just stuck willy-nilly in with no regard for type of recipe. I have no idea how she found anything in it. The gold elastic Christmas present cord is used to hold the whole thing together.

I pulled a couple of items out randomly. The ubiquitous Betty Crocker makes another appearance with a Chocolate Chiffon Cake Recipe and my Great Aunt Bess’ (Grandma’s sister) recipe for pickle relish has been hand written on a brittle and yellowing piece of note paper from Garrett Truck Lines (no idea why).

One of my favorite items from Grandma’s binder is a little booklet entitled Make It Right With Lard, published by the National Livestock and Meat Board. The picture on the front has the word Lard spelled via holes cut in a pie crust. It contains some nifty tips for cooking with the perfect fat, and recipes for everything from biscuits to ginger snaps. Maybe it’s just me, but I cannot imagine ginger snaps made with lard.

I have no idea how old the binder is. The leather is dry and cracking in places. Many of the pages are starting to crumble. Grandma passed in 1980 at the age of 97. She was a wonderful cook and collected recipes her whole life. The binder could have been acquired at any time.

Isn’t it funny how things just skip generations? Grandma and all of my Great Aunts cooked and baked and sewed and knitted and crocheted and quilted and tatted and embroidered. But neither Mama nor her sister, my aunt G., were cooks. Neither could sew beyond the basics. Neither was into any sort of handcrafting. They had many other wonderful qualities and talents. But not those.

Knitting |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 2:39 AM

My day started early, because the fur kids wanted their breakfast. Cats, as the saying goes, do not have snooze alarms. It is impossible to sleep through three cats who are alarming rather than snoozing.

After silencing the kitty alarms with nice full bowls of kibble and getting the coffee perking, I started to get ready to head off to work. I opened the drawer where I keep my unmentionables.

My still-foggy brain slowly grasped the fact that, no matter how late I got home last night, I really should have done that load of laundry. Because there was no way that I would be getting dressed until at least some laundry was done. I glanced at the clock. I checked my calendar.

I have an old Palm Pilot. The orderliness of reality depends on my Palm Pilot. It contains my brain. You think I jest, gentle reader, but I am serious. Were anything to happen to my Palm, the universe would implode because all known laws of physics would cease to exist. And I would be even later to appointments than I already am. And my hair would turn grayer faster out of sheer panic.

Oh, wait. That last has already happened. But, thanks to Carla the wonder-stylist, I can exist in blissful denial. Actually, Carla says that I have hardly any gray. It’s all white. Since I would look like a ghost with white hair, Carla takes care of that. And I have beautiful, magical, color. (I feel a Disney song coming on…)

But I digress.

I checked my calendar and determined that I could handle the morning meeting from home, show up in person at noon, and take care of the stuff that really required my actual bodily presence after lunch. That would give me time to take care of the aforementioned laundry issue, thus allowing me to actually get dressed some time before noon, etc. I could pick up lunch from the burrito cart near work, and I’d be all set.

Doesn’t that sound like a simple and elegant plan?

I thought so. But that was before the battery died on my speakerphone, forcing me to balance a phone on my shoulder while typing and guaranteeing that I would have a stiff neck. And I blame the neck stiffness for the clumsy little stumble I took on the front steps at work. It would have been little, that is, except that, in trying to save my burrito (I was hungry!), I did fall over a bit more than I had really thought I was going to, and sort of jammed one finger against the concrete step so now I have a bruised, blue fingernail. And of course it’s my middle finger. So people may have thought I was not a happy camper, what with that blue finger flashing around and all, even though I wasn’t really trying to flip anyone off.

Although there was a bit of blue language, and probably some flipping off, that was directed at my computer when I turned it on, expecting to continue working on the document that I had spent four hours on yesterday, only to find it gone. Gone. G.O.N.E. Nowhere. Gone. That’s four hours, vanished into the aether. Four. Hours.

I’m a pretty smart cookie, I’d like to think. I can usually ferret out any hiding place a document tries to wiggle into. It was not there. I have no idea what happened to it.

Except that’s just the kind of day it was. The kind of day when your work goes poooofft for no reason and everything and everyone around you is in total panic mode.

Did someone ask for a do-over on Monday? Was one Monday not enough? Is the moon full or Mercury in retrograde or something?

The fax machine wouldn’t even work and it was 1:30 before I finally got to eat my (cold, slightly squished) burrito while I tried valiantly to concentrate on yet another teleconference while still trying vainly to find my document.

One of my colleagues who recognized I was having a day — probably because my hair, which had been perfectly behaving when I left the house — began to expand as I ran my (bruised, blue) fingers through it in frustration — brought me a Dove chocolate. You know how Dove chocolates have little sayings on the insides of the wrappers? This one said (I am not making this up), Get your feet massaged.

How would I have time to do that, seeing as how I lost 4 hours worth of work on a document I’m only half finished with, I’m having to deal with multiple crises and I can’t find a working fax machine? Unless a foot-masseuse shows up under my desk, it’s not going to happen.

water and bubbles
water and bubbles

I was so glad to come home.

Because I knew that I was coming home to Scharffen Berger chocolate (dinner of stressed-out champions everywhere), courtesy of Marie. And the Great Green Glob was there to be knit on for a few mindless garter-stitch only rows (carefully, with one finger sort of sticking out).

Ahhhhh…. better.

You can see from the picture that the Great Green Glob has progressed. In the semi-stretched-out part you can see the waves, and below the waves are bubbles. Next come the fish. I am getting there, slowly but surely.

And I’m glad, because today I found this pattern and totally and completely fell in love. I have the pattern in hand, and I’m now looking for just the perfect yarn. Silky, I think. And honey-colored. And slightly variegated or hand-painted. But just slightly. I’m thinking I might find the perfect thing at Oregon Flock & Fiber. We shall see.

And tomorrow?

Tomorrow, gentle reader, is another day!

Knitting |Sockapaloooza by Judy @ 7:42 AM

a mysterious box
a mysterious box

Look what I found in my mailbox!

A mysterious and intriguing box that came from California.

Could this be from my Sockapalooza pal?

What could be inside?

little packages
little packages

This looks fun!

Little brightly-wrapped packages and a card with my name on it.

What can it all be?


There are instructions for opening.

OK. I will be good.

But you have to know it was tough!

Moo wants to help
Moo wants to help

Moo Cow: Can I open this one, Mommy? I like bows!

Mom: NO! Besides, you eat bows. That’s not what they were intended for.

Moo Cow: OK. I will let you open it. If you insist.

oooo….  cool things!
oooo…. cool things!

Look at all that was inside!

Little packages of Soak.

Highlighting tape for use with lace charts.

Scharffen Berger Chocolate — my favorite!

A picture of a whale (opened last, per instructions!).

And a wonderful pair of green and yellow Monkeys. They were wrapped in a really cool official Sockapalooza sock band that you can just see peeking out from under the socks on the far right.

You can see the socks packaged with the band right here. But I, in a frenzy of opening, missed that picture.

happy feet
happy feet

And now my feet are happy! I can’t wait for it to be wool-sock-wearing weather.

Thanks, Marie! I love everything, and the socks fit perfectly. 😀 What a great Sockapalooza Pal you are!

Knitting by Judy @ 9:36 PM

basket weave Walking On The Wild Tide

As promised, here is my progress on the socks I’m knitting from the April Rockin Sock Club offering — a new Blue Moon yarn called Silkie Socks That Rock. This colorway is called Walking On The Wild Tide. (Click on the pics for a no-calorie biggy-size.) As you can see, the colors are not flashing or pooling, except in a very general way. I obviously hit just the right gauge for this particular skein.

I am not knitting the April pattern. It was an open mesh pattern, and after swatching it I thought that the negative space competed with the colors. I really wanted something that played up the color without getting lost in it. A simple basket weave did just the trick. I’m afraid these seem fated to become the Seagrass Basket socks. But I’m open to other suggestions.

I am knitting these in my standard sock pattern except with a star toe. I cast on while sitting in a plane, waiting to fly to Portland. I wasn’t happy with the toes and frogged them when I got home, then reknit. I did the increases on the toe every 3rd round instead of every other round, so the toe is longer and fits my foot better than star toes usually do. I am knitting on size US#1 Addi Lace needles.

I’m loving the yarn, loving how it is knitting up, loving the pattern. I can’t wait for the weather to get cold again so I can wear them.

Well… OK… I won’t go that far.

The bumble bees and some of our other native bees were buzzing around while I took this picture of sock toes posing in my Spanish lavender. I didn’t see any honey bees, but the day was growing late.

Moose Creek Socks

Too late to get a decent picture of the darker Moose Creek socks. It turns out that sitting on the tarmac in an airplane for hours and hours does lead to lots of time for knitting. I finished the Moose Creek socks while waiting for thunderstorms to clear so my plane could leave Houston.

I used Mountain Colors Bearfoot yarn in colorway Moose Creek. It’s lovely dark chocolates mixed with gold and very deep blues/purples.

I tried to take this pic outside, but thunderstorms are moving in and I had lost the evening light. So I was forced to resort to the winter socks on a chair short. The colors are pretty true, though.

The Particulars:

  • Yarn: Mountain Colors Bearfoot (60% Superwash Wool, 25% Mohair, 15% Nylon/ 100g, 350yds per skein) in colorway Moose Creek — one skein, and I had a goodly bit left.
  • Needles: Addi Lace Needles, US#1 (2.5mm).
  • Pattern: Eyelet Lace stitch from Barbara Walker, used with my own standard sock pattern.
  • Techniques used:
    • Knit toe-up, two at a time, on double circulars.
    • I used the Magic Cast On.
    • The heel flap is worked in heel stitch. I often add garter stitch edges, but this time I didn’t.
    • The cuff is 1×1 ribbing.
    • Kitchener (grafted, tubular) bind-off.

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